Chapter Sixty-One: The Carmelite Convent at Béthune
Milady reaches the convent, stopping only to send Cardinal Richelieu a note informing him that the Duke will not be sending reinforcements to La Rochelle.
The abbess in charge of the convent meets Milady and the two women a lovely chat. Milady entertains her host with anecdotes from court life, and tries to determine if the abbess is a cardinalist or royalist.
Once Milady establishes that the abbess is a royalist, she immediately begins playing the part of one of the Cardinal’s persecuted victims.
The abbess reveals that there is another one of the Cardinal’s persecuted victims staying at the convent! What a coincidence!
Milady asks to meet this other victim. The abbess says Milady ought to rest first; they will rouse her later.
Shortly afterwards, Constance and Milady encounter each other for the first time. They survey each other carefully, noting that they are each beautiful, but in different ways.
Constance says she has been at the convent for six months, but that she expects to be leaving soon.
Being the sweet woman that she is, Constance then offers to put in a good word with the higher-ups in order for Milady to leave the convent. Milady bemoans that even the Queen cannot do much for her.
Not so, Constance protests, and then in the next breath asks if Milady is acquainted with the Queen.
Milady says no, but indicates that they have mutual friends. She lists them, baiting Constance carefully, until she admits to being friends with D’Artagnan.
Constance immediately suspects that Milady was once D’Artagnan’s mistress! She’s right on the mark, but Milady denies it, saying that the two of them were only ever "just friends."
Milady is so happy to have found Constance, the woman whom D’Artagnan loves.
Constance is overcome and the friendship is sealed. The two women hug each other.
She confesses to Milady that she is expecting D’Artagnan himself any day now.
Milady does not believe it; D’Artagnan and his friends are supposed to still be at the siege of La Rochelle.
Constance thrusts a note at Milady. She recognizes the handwriting as Madame de Chevreuse’s, and scans the note quickly. It tells Constance, effectively, that D’Artagnan will soon be arriving.
At that moment, hoof beats are heard. Constance flies to the window in hope, and Milady is petrified. Luckily for Milady, it is not D’Artagnan—it’s the Comte de Rochefort. (Otherwise known as the man from Meung.)